Angioedema is significant swelling under the skin. Take note that the swelling can also occur on the skin surface. In some circumstances, the swelling can be accompanied by the appearance of hives. Some areas in the body such as the limbs and face are susceptible to swelling than the other body parts. If you want to learn how to manage this condition, read here.
When angioedema runs in the family, it is called as hereditary angioedema and has various causes, symptoms, treatment and complications than the regular angioedema.
Causes of angioedema
It is believed by healthcare professionals that angioedema can be caused by an adverse allergic reaction. Due to this, the causes for this condition can be categorized as allergens which vary from one individual to another. Many individuals who are diagnosed with angioedema could not determine the exact cause.
Factors that can cause angioedema
- Insect bites
- Animal dander
- Various types of foods
- Exposure to cold, heat or sunlight
Who are at risk for angioedema?
It is important to note that angioedema can occur along with certain conditions and autoimmune disorders. The condition can also occur after recovery from an infection. As for hereditary angioedema, it can run in the family. Those who have this form of angioedema might have an abnormal function or low levels of C1 inhibitor protein.
Symptoms of angioedema
Angioedema may or may not occur with welts and swelling on the skin surface. The usual symptom is swelling under the skin surface. In some cases, the swelling can also occur on the hands, feet, throat, lips and eyes. It can spread all over the body or manifest as a line on the affected region.
Other symptoms of angioedema
- Swollen mouth
- Swollen eyes or lining of the eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal cramping
As for hereditary angioedema, there are different symptoms such as airway blockage, swelling of the intestinal tract and swelling in the tongue, eyes, lips, arms, leg or throat.
Treatment for angioedema
If an individual experiences the mild symptoms, treatment is no longer needed. In case the symptoms are moderate to severe, the treatment involves medications such as epinephrine, ranitidine, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs and terbutaline.
In case the individual is experiencing difficulty breathing, it is considered as a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Those who are identified with the hereditary type can be managed with C1 inhibitor concentrate and other medications.
How angioedema is diagnosed
The doctor will assess the skin and ask if the individual was exposed to any substances. During the physical examination, the doctor will listen to the breathing. In case the throat is involved, there are abnormal breathing sounds.
If the doctor suspects that the individual has hereditary angioedema, blood tests will be carried out. In most cases, these tests are done while the individual is experiencing an episode of angioedema. The blood tests that are carried out include C1 inhibitor level and function as well as complement components C2 and C4.